The drive to this Mission is more of an adventurous than the Mission itself. It’s worth the trip if you are coming from Silicon Valley. One rather beautiful route takes you along Skyline Boulevard, through the Santa Cruz Mountains) and lush forests. Santa Cruz itself is a little beach city, much like Santa Monica outside Los Angeles.
La Misión de la Exaltación de la Santa Cruz was founded on September 25, 1791, and is number 15 of the 21 Spanish Missions founded in California. It’s small, and not original… there’s a story behind this. The original Mission is actually buried underneath the huge white Gothic monstrosity next to the Mission; the original was destroyed in the earthquake of 1857.
The little tiny Mission like building that you see today was built in the 1930s at half scale. The project was funded by a generous donor — Gladys Sullivan Doyle — who said she would donate to the project if she was allowed to be buried in the Mission. The rest, as they say, is history. There is a half-scale Mission on-site and Gladys’s grave is inside.
Behind the building is the only remaining structure from the original: an Indigenous American dormitory that now houses the Mission Museum. The building is long with a roof that still repels rain (which I discovered during a particularly nasty downpour). Inside is a nice garden area. There’s no graveyard that I could find… but then again I was running from shelter to shelter in an attempt to keep dry.